Suitability of Ugandan produced banana fibres for paper making
Atuheire, Godfrey K.
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Banana fibres are underutilized and regarded as waste yet they have got a high potential for production of biodegradable products. The study investigated the suitability of banana fibres produced in Uganda for paper making. The objectives of the study were; (i) to assess the length, width and thickness of fibres from selected banana varieties (ii) to determine the lignin and cellulose contents of fibres extracted from selected banana varieties and (iii) to assess the tensile and tearing strength of sample papers. The manually extracted banana fibres from inner banana stem barks of the five varieties: Kayinja (ABB); Mbidde (AAA-EA); Bogoya (AAA); Mbwazirume (AAA-EA) and Njagata (AAA-EA) using a piece of sharp edged wood on a slanting extraction board, were subjected to anatomical and proximate chemical analysis. The Njagata variety had significantly thicker fibres than those of other varities while fibres of Bogoya had the smallest thickness. Fibres of Bogoya variety were wider than those of the other varieties. The fibre length of Kayinja variety was the highest in comparison with other varieties selected for this study while Bogoya variety had the lowest value. The highest acid insoluble lignin content was found in Mbwazurume variety while the lowest was found in Bogoya. The highest Alpha cellulose content was obtained in Mbidde variety while the lowest was found in Kayinja variety. The tensile strength of sample papers produced from the selected banana varieties differed significantly with the highest obtained from Kayinja variety and the lowest obtained from Mbidde variety. The tear strength of sample papers from Mbidde variety gave the highest value and Njagata gave the lowest. For mass production of fibres from Ugandan grown banana varieties, it is recommended that Kayinja, Bogoya and Mbidde varieties be adopted because of their superior fibre properties i.e. length, lignin and alpha cellulose content respectively and the fact that they are less demanded for food consumption.